Choosing Binoculars or a Spotting Scope for Your Mountain Adventures

5 of the most important factors to consider when choosing long-range optics
K21 Cl Curio Dsc0419 Cmyk 6x4

One of the greatest rewards of spending time in the mountains is having the opportunity to witness the natural beauty that surrounds you—from majestic mountain peaks, thick forests of conifers, meandering rivers and groves of aspen to a plethora of wildlife from the tiniest of cheeky chipmunks to thundering herds of elk.

Whether you like to get out and explore nature or enjoy the views and vistas from the comfort of your own home, using a high-quality optic device makes the experience richer and more intimate.

There’s a lot to learn when it comes to the optical performance of long-range optics, so it’s important to do your homework. There are many factors to consider, but here are five of the most important.


Swarovski Birds

Magnification is the factor by which an object appears closer than it actually is. Looking through a long-range optical device (such as binoculars or a spotting scope) changes your perception.

The higher the magnification, the closer the object appears to be and the more details you can identify. For example, binoculars with a 10x magnification will optically magnify a bird that is 100 yards away, making it appear as if it is just 10 yards away if viewed with the naked eye.

Objective Lens Size

Swarovki Scope

The objective lens is the side of your binoculars or spotting scope that faces the object. The objective lens diameter determines how much light can enter, which makes it a key factor in the instrument’s performance, especially in poor light conditions.

This means the larger the objective lens diameter, the more light the objective lens can capture and the lighter the image appears. The poorer the light conditions – for example, at twilight – the larger the objective lens diameter should be.

Shortest Focusing Distance

Swarovski Insect

The shortest focusing distance specifies how close an object needs to be to see it clearly with the binoculars. From this value to infinity, you can use the focusing ring on the binoculars to focus your image. The shortest focusing distance for our binoculars starts at about 6.5 feet (not taking into account any visual impairments in the human eye.)

Eye Relief


The eye relief is the distance between the eyepiece and the human eye, which specifies where the exit pupil of the binoculars ideally meets the human eye. Twist-in eyecups can be used to adjust the individual position. The eye relief in high-quality binoculars is between 14 and 19 mm, which guarantees pleasant viewing.


K22 Cl Companion 2017 Anthrazit Wild Nature Cmyk

When it comes to getting the most out of long-range optics, you know the old saying—you get what you pay for. Making the investment in a high-quality piece of equipment will pay dividends far into the future.

And while optical performance is of utmost importance, build quality also matters. Look for binoculars and spotting scopes with a durable housing that are waterproof and shock resistant. The best products will offer a combination of looks, functionality, ergonomics and design.

Ben Lizdas is the business development manager at Swarovski Optik, a manufacturer of premium quality rifle scopes, binoculars, spotting scopes, and tripods. View their profile or visit

Content and images provided by Swarovski Optik.


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